The idea behind Meatless Monday is something that may seem fairly recent, however is rooted back in American history from the World War II era when the federal government promoted it to aid US and allied efforts. The idea officially re-launched when the founder of Monday Campaigns sought to find new ways to devote Mondays to healthy behavior. The initiative began in 2003, aided by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, offering guides and alternatives for consumers to turn away from meat. Since then, the movement has gained significant support, with entire communities developing to share tips and recipes.
Hospitals, schools and restaurants have begun to promote meat-free alternatives as well, citing the health and environmental benefits of Meatless Mondays. Health has been found to be the primary reason people are interested in cutting back on meat, mostly to avoid the high levels of saturated fat. Saturated fat has been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Experts say meat consumption should be lowered by 15%, and rather than cutting down meat intake every day people can simply cut one day out of the week, and effectively improve their health.
Meatless Mondays also play a crucial part in addressing global hunger and obesity trends. Many countries in the developing world have recently become exposed to the Western diet with plenty of meat and fast food. In other parts of the world where hunger is a more serious issue, Meatless Mondays raise awareness about mass quantities of grain that feed livestock but could more efficiently be used to feed people.
Another huge aspect of Meatless Mondays lies in the environmental benefits of reducing meat consumption. Industrial meat production uses a massive quantity of resources, including grain, water and fossil fuels. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the source of their meat, and finding that the way farmers and ranchers raise livestock is often unsustainable and unhealthy.
The results from Meatless Monday have encouraged the campaigns’ founders to continue efforts and focus on more global growth. The campaign has reached about 50% awareness in the US, with 27% saying that Meatless Monday has caused them to cut back on their meat intake. With restaurants and big name chefs like Mario Batali joining the movement as well, it could only be a matter of time before many people start to see how easy it is to give up one day of meat.
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